Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers. She moved beyond hats to become a rebel and a trailblazer of the fashion world, creating a new sartorial style, freeing women from corsets and lace frills by offering them sailor shirts and wide-leg pants.
She once said, “Nothing is more beautiful than freedom of the body.”
Her designs lived by these words: Chanel’s silhouettes were fluid and androgynous, her designs loose and — in the case of her iconic little black dress, or LBD — democratic. She wanted women to move and breathe in clothes. Her work was, in many ways, a form of female emancipation.
It’s been 50 years since Chanel’s death, though her legacy endures. As well as revolutionizing how we dress, she helped form a new ideal of what a fashion brand could be: an all-encompassing force that could tend to all aspects of a woman’s life, from formal attire to holiday wardrobes and evening ones.